Bernicia top marks underpin £120m homes investment plans

Top marks from tenants and industry experts are underpinning new plans by Bernicia to invest £120m into new and existing homes over the next four years.

The North East housing association with 14,000 properties across the region is finalising its new corporate strategy – setting out its investment priorities until 2026.

The new strategy will go live next March, and tenants’ views and needs are at the heart of it – providing more input into the strategic direction of the business than ever before.

More than 92% of tenants said they are satisfied with the repair and maintenance of their homes in Bernicia’s latest annual review of tenant opinion.

And a report by social housing industry experts TPAS (Tenants’ Participation Advisory Service) examining Bernicia’s customer involvement work revealed it met all national engagement standards – pinpointing excellence in governance and transparency, scrutiny and business and strategy.

Bernicia undertook a wide-ranging consultation exercise – “Your Say, Services Your Way” and the results are influencing how services will be tailored to meet tenants’ changing needs in the new strategy.

This includes building more new homes, modernisation of existing properties, keeping estates well maintained, greater investments in training and employability initiatives and a wide range of opportunities for tenants to become involved with and influence Bernicia.

The TPAS report concluded: “The organisation has clear expectations of a tenant first culture that influences service delivery through strong and effective leadership. Staff have a real positive commitment, and this was shown through their behaviours and attitudes both to colleagues and with tenants.

“Tenants’ influence and voice is evidenced in all strategic decisions.”

Bernicia’s tenant voice is heard and responded to by directors and board on business areas across the company, to ensure people’s needs are at the heart of decision making and reflected in services delivered.

Bernicia – with its head office in Ashington – employs over 550 staff, providing homes and services to more than 60,000 residents and with a financial turnover of more than £75m in the last financial year.

John Johnston, Bernicia Chief Executive, said: “The positive feedback from our tenants and TPAS was great validation of our real commitment to ensure our tenants play a central role in shaping our new strategy – we believe we make better decisions by working together.

“We recognise that to deliver exceptional services we must listen to our customers, understand their needs and involve them in setting clear service standards and in the monitoring of our performance against them.

“Our commitment to ensure our tenants voice plays a central part in our governance arrangements and decision making goes back many years. We work closely with our tenants because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it enriches understanding, supports the development of a shared sense of common purpose and makes us a stronger and better organisation.”